Sporadic Distribution of Prion-Forming Ability of Sup35p from Yeasts and Fungi
Herman K. Edskes, Hima J. Khamar, Chia-Lin Winchester, Alexandria J. Greenler, Albert Zhou, Ryan P. McGlinchey, Anton Gorkovskiy, Reed B. Wickner


Sup35p of Saccharomyces cerevisiae can form the [PSI+] prion, an infectious amyloid in which the protein is largely inactive. The part of Sup35p that forms the amyloid is the region normally involved in control of mRNA turnover. The formation of [PSI+] by Sup35ps from other yeasts has been interpreted to imply that the prion-forming ability of Sup35p is conserved in evolution, and thus of survival/fitness/evolutionary value to these organisms. We surveyed a larger number of yeast and fungal species by the same criteria as used previously, and find that the Sup35p from many species cannot form prions. [PSI+] could be formed by the Sup35p from Candida albicans, Candida maltosa, Debaromyces hansenii and Kluyveromyces lactis, but orders of magnitude less often than the S. cerevisiae Sup35p converts to the prion form. The Sup35s from Schizosaccharomyces pombe and Ashbya gossypii clearly do not form [PSI+]. We were also unable to detect [PSI+] formation by the Sup35ps from Aspergillus nidulans, Aspergillus fumigatus, Magnaporthe grisea, Ustilago maydis or Cryptococcus neoformans. Each of two C. albicans SUP35 alleles can form [PSI+], but transmission from one to the other is partially blocked. These results suggest that the prion forming ability of Sup35p is not a conserved trait, but is an occasional deleterious side effect of a protein domain conserved for another function.

  • Received May 22, 2014.
  • Accepted July 17, 2014.